ACF has followed the recent request for comments on revised AFCARS data reporting with a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on additional (Indian Child Welfare Act) ICWA-Related Data Elements. On April 2 the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) released a notice of intent to publish a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (SNPRM) related to the Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) NPRM that was published on February 9. The SNPRM (80 FR 17713) proposes that title IV-E agencies collect and report additional data elements in AFCARS that are related to ICWA.
In announcing the additional request for comments, ACF indicate that they had received comments asking for additional data elements that would address ICWA requirements and provide a comprehensive picture of the well-being of tribal children. They indicated that they had not included information on ICWA because they interpreted the enabling statute of AFCARS as limiting data collection to information related to title IV-B and IV-E program requirements. It wasn’t until after the release of the 2015 NPRM that ACF determined that there is authority to collect ICWA-related data in AFCARS.
This is seen as a major step forward for tribal communities and ICWA advocates. Collecting this data will provide important information about how ICWA is being implemented nationwide. We encourage organizations to applaud ACF for this decision and the upcoming SNPRM in their comments to the 2015 NPRM and to work with tribal partners to file comments of support to the SNPRM. ACF will consider the public comments on the NPRM and SNPRM and issue one final rule on AFCARS.